Can You Spot The Gaming PC In This Picture?

Can You Spot The Gaming PC In This Picture?

Hint: it’s the one with the USB ports.

I’ve just received a review unit of Maingear’s minuscule Spark, a gaming PC that’s larger than an ambitious sandwich. Introduced at the beginning of the year as a Steam Machine, tiny computers wait for no 2015 official release, so a version sporting Windows 8.1 is available for sale now, starting at $US699.

The Spark is essentially a Windows 8.1 laptop without the screen, running an AMD Radeon R9 M275X GPU paired with an AMD A8-5557M APU with a Radeon HD 8550G to handle day-to-day display tasks.

Did I mention it’s tiny?

At 4.5 x 4.23 x 2.34 inches, the Spark is barely a thing. The unit is bundled with a VESA mounting plate, so you can attach it to the back of a monitor or television and never see it at all.

I’ll be spending the next week or two testing out the Spark and recovering from Friday’s spine surgery. Oddly enough, my back problems first surfaced after I strained by back moving an 80 pound Maingear review desktop from my living room into my office. The doctors tell me I won’t be able to lift more than 10 pounds for several weeks, so the Spark arrived just in time.

Such a pretty little thing.


  • Oh look, another gigabyte brix rebadge. I’m not saying they’re crap but I’d recommend the iris pro. Unless you want overheating components that’ll throttle and die.

    • The NVidia 760 variant of this is actually a tiny beast, using a full GTX 760, not even a mobile version. Although I think this formfactor will have to wait until the 800 series cards and Intel Skylake chips. Once they rock around, these tiny, quiet power boxes will be cheap and powerful enough to thrash a console.

      Mark my words, 2015/2016 is when this formfactor will truly shine.

      • That’s what I’m waiting for, skylake and true Maxwell will be damn power efficient and run fast enough for me to use as an indie/streaming box. Also gives steam time to perfect streaming.

        • Considering you can get passively cooled *stock* GTX 750 Ti’s now and the fact that the 750 Ti is (on paper) the same in performance as a PS4, I can only imagine what an 850 Ti with a Skylake i3/i5 could do inside such a tiny box.

          In fact I see no reason why you couldn’t use such a box as your main rig if you were fine with [email protected]@medium for virtually any game for the next few years….

    • this does indeed look like a brix rebadge – is it a brix pro which was supposed to marketed for gaming?

    • Yeah, looks identical to a Brix. I’ve seen a video review on that (the Brix) and it throttled so much that seemed kind of pointless as a device. The components were severely chocked inside such a small space (not to mention really noisy small fans that tried to generate enough airflow). It looks cool, but functionality wise, it’s just not there. I don’t see why having a full desktop could ever really be that much of a hassle to the point where you would opt for something like this instead … at least not for gaming, as the results were way beyond disappointing.

  • I would kill to have a PC that small, I am always moving mine from room to room when I want to connect it on the TV or something and its huge!

      • HDMI has a length limit before requiring a booster (somewhere around 50m) and boosters are expensive.

    • just get a separate cheap PC and leave it at your TV. Use Steam’s game streaming features to play everything from your main PC to your TV.
      Or if it’s just for media, use a chromecast

        • I haven’t tested this myself, but apparently you can play non-steam games over steam-streaming.

          • Correct. You can. I’ve done it.

            Some things that require launchers occasionally want you to go to the streaming PC and enter stuff, but once that’s done, you can settle in. For the most part it works just fine.

        • Add notepad to steam, run it through streaming and just minimise it . you now have complete control over your pc via streaming. How I streamed bf4 when I tested it

    • There are many, many functions this can serve. I personally have an Intel NUC and use it as a media player running XBMC, it can be a torrent box, it can be used as a NAS device for all your other mobile devices to stream from. I play some basic games, mainly platformers and emulation. It can be used for web and email on the big TV, general browsing and pretty much any other thing you can think to use a PC for. Sure, you probably won;t be playing the latest and greatest games maxed out on it, but then this is not designed to do that. And the low noise and low power of my NUC means I can leave it on 24/7 and not worry about excessive power bills.
      I am sure there are a lot more uses that I have not thought of.

      • Don’t forget that you can stream almost all Steam games across a LAN now.
        You could play all the stuff on your main gaming rig on a PC this size connected to a TV… In fact you can do it on a much less powerful PC.
        My HTPC runs everything on integrated graphics including game streaming and all media content.

  • I’d rather have a regular desktop case to make sure there’s enough airflow.

    I have my gaming PC set up at a desk at the back of the living room and a 10m HDMI cable going to the TV so I can use it there too.

    • I’d rather have both. One of these stealthed behind my tv for easy media watching and drunk browsing, and my main PC in another room for ‘serious’ usage.

      I’ve got a big arse HDMI cable going too. I hate it. Much rather go wireless.

      • I can see the advantage of having a small underpowered (and non overheating) box hooked up to the TV and then using Steam Streaming to play games on the TV from your gaming PC in another room, and that’s probably a setup I’ll have in the future.

        But for a dedicated gaming PC I’d still prefer a bigger box, makes it much easier to get in there when you want to change bits around.


        Great, now I’m looking up mini PCs on PCCG

  • At US$700 it’s nearly twice the cost of a PS4 for not as much gaming power. But, you get something that’ll cost less to power, less to keep online (no subs. required, etc) and with cheaper games through Steam. Then add on top of that the fact that it is just a computer, perfect for web browsing and email, and IMO you’d be a fool to have a console and not have at least a basic computer at home for general computing.

    So when thinking of it like that, it’s either $400 for a PS4 and $300 for the cheapest, shittiest netbook money can buy, or bundle the dosh together and get one of these.

  • Between my mobile and my xbox one, my PC has gathered so much dust its not funny….cant recall last time i turned it on?

  • The Brix gaming unit is more powerful that the above with an Intel I5-4200H and Gforce GTX 760…

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